Swimming Marathon: Platelee 2015

Sports

Hello!

This past weekend, I and a bunch of my friends went camping by the Plateliai lake (wiki). That lake and the whole Plateliai town (wiki) is a very special place for all the members of the swimming community, which I and most of my friends are a part of. 34 years ago, the first open water swimming marathon in my country was organized in that particular lake. There is only one person, who is still alive, and who has swum in all of the marathons to date.

The first time, I and my family went to Plateliai was in 2004. Back then, I was only 7 years old and couldn’t swim, but my dad was a veteran swimmer, so he participated in the marathon. Since then, my family has been going to that event every year, and I participated in my first Platelee marathon in 2010.

Plateliai swimming marathon is also very huge party for teenager/young adult swimmers. It is a whole weekend of partying with your closest friends, doing craziest things without any consequences.

The weather this year was quite terrible, air temperature reached only around 20 degrees Celsius (68 F), while the water temperature was even lower – 15 or 16 degrees Celsius(59 to 61 F) . My whole body froze while competing in a 1.8 km distance. My friends swam the longer 3.5 km distance and was freezing even more by the time she finished. The wind was also really strong, so there were massive waves in the lake. Around 140 swimmers didn’t allow the cold weather and water to stop them from swimming and participated in the event.

All of the swimmers  received a commemorative T-Shirt (like always), a sticker with the marathon logo and a medal, intricately carved from wood. (Photos below).

Although, I am not a social person and kinda hate partying, I’m really glad that I attended the Platelee marathon and stayed for all the crazy after-party and pre-party stuff. Now, I just need to sleep for a few days to get myself back in shape. Also, I need to wash a lot of clothes and dry out my sleeping bag – during the night from Saturday from Sunday the rain was pouring non-stop, so we were practically sleeping in a pool of water. However,  a really cute cat woke me up in the morning by touching my nose with her paw. Gladly, she didn’t have her nails out. One of my friends told me that the cat sneaked into the tent through the crack and, since all of us were sleeping, that friend didn’t want to risk waking others up by shoo-ing the cat or yelling. So, we just had a pet stay over for a night.

Even if you are not a swimmer and just a regular tourist, Plateliai town and lake is still an amazing place to visit. I have always enjoyed sitting on a footbridge and reading a book or just watching the boats and yachts pass by. The lake is also full of unexplored islands which you can reach by hiring a boat or taking a ride on a water bicycle. In addition, there is a plethora of cozy little hotels to spend the night in, if you are not a type of person who likes camping.

Anyway, I hope you had a great weekend like I did. These past 4 days have been a highlight of my summer. You can find last years coverage of this swimming marathon here. More photos from the marathon are on Facebook.

Bye!

Movie review: The Divergent Series: Insurgent

Movie reviews

Hello!

So, last night, I went to see the second installment in The Divergent Series – Insurgent and this is going to be my review.Enjoy!

First of all, I would like to give a spoiler warning because I might spoil some details of the film in the review. Still here? Let’s go then.

IMDb summary: Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side.

As a young adult myself and a fan of dystopian genre, I was really excited about this film. I have read all the books by Veronica Roth about 2 years ago, so, going into this film, I knew what was going to happen. Still, since it’s been quite a long time since I’ve read the original material and I have read a lot of books since then, I couldn’t remember all the details of the story, so I got to experience everything once again, like for the very first time.

Having said that, before I did this review, I reread the plot of the book at The Divergent Wikia page and realized that I would have probably been surprised by the plot of the film even if I had remember the book’s plot because they changed a lot of stuff.

I am usually really open-minded when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations and the changes they make but this time I had a few problems.

To begin with, they left out a lot of characters. Marcus had nothing to do in this film, Tori was also left out for the bigger part and even though they gave Tori’s twist to Evelyn, she was also an undeveloped character. In addition, other characters like Shauna, Lynn, Edward were cut. Christina was forgotten and Uriah didn’t really stick out to me.

Moreover, they changed the story a lot. The whole box and the test story-line was completely different than it was in the book (though I really liked it – not more than the book version but they were on an equal level at least). The book also had more democracy in it: more trials, more meeting and, in the film, they were just straight up killing each other. However, I really liked that they didn’t shy away from the killing in a PG-13 film. The books had a lot of deaths in them (a lot of unnecessary ones, especially the 3rd book – book readers will understand:)) and the movie should portray the cruelty of that wold correctly.  Visuals

You can definitely tell that they spent 110 million dollars on this film because it looks spectacular. I immensely enjoyed all the simulations and the way they were realized. Those particles looked extremely cool. The whole world building and Jeanine’s holographs were also realistic and interesting. I just wish they hadn’t spoiled all the cool Tris’s simulation scenes in the trailers and teasers.

Character by character (acting)

I believe that the 4 main young actors did a great ob. I am a huge Shailene Woodley fan (the whole post about her) and really like her in a role of Tris. I also dig the new haircut: it makes her look more edgy and sophisticated at the same time. Theo James was also good in his role, though, he didn’t have much to do. On the other hand, he will have a bigger role in the 3 and 4 films if they stick to the Allegiant’s (book’s) plot.

Miles Teller was also very good in the role of Peter. I am also a huge fan of his (post about him) and really liked his characters changes of heart. Ansel Elgort – also a favorite of mine (TFIOS!). However, his story-line was a bit weak and the betrayal wasn’t really realized properly.

The adults: Kate Winslet as Jeanine was okay. I wish she would have done more with this role. Evelyn played by Naomi Watts wasn’t realized properly too as I have already mentioned. I wish they would have spent more time with Tori played by Maggie Q because she is one of my favorite characters. The only adult character I really liked was Daniel Dae Kim’s Jack King – the leader of the Candor.

Themes

The dystopian genre always explores the same themes: humanity’s self destruction, society’s division into groups and the cost of rebellion. Interestingly, this particular series also dells deeper into psychological issues of the main character: the ability to forgive oneself and be at peace with oneself. I really like when big Hollywood block-busters have some heart in them.

My favorite quote was said by Evelyn: “I am factionless because I don’t belong to any faction and you are a divergent because you belong to too many” (sorry if I couldn’t remember it word by word). It gives a nice perspective on the differences and ,at the same time, similarities of the people. No matter how different we all are, we are all outsiders of society. There is no inside circle.

All in all, I enjoyed the film but it was far from perfect. Next year, we will be getting Allegiant Part 1 and then Part 2 the year after that. I wish they would have stayed more faithful to the book while making the 2nd film and changed the 3rd book’s story-line but I really doubt that that will happen.

Trailer: Insurgent trailer

Rate: 4/5

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Photos: Screenshots form the trailer, poster – LIONSGATE.

Movie review: Unbroken

Movie reviews

Hi!
On Monday, I went to the cinema to watch Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. I have seen several films depicting World War II events from different angles (Schindler’s list, Fury, Inglorious Basterds, Pearl Harbor, Forest of Gods and The Imitation Game) and now Unbroken joins this list.

In short I would describe the film as a mixture of Life of Pi and Fury with a pinch of Forest of Gods and topped of with Edge of Tomorrow.

Unbroken isn’t Angelina’s directorial debut – it’s her 2nd time being behind the camera. The film tells a story of Louis Zamperini – an Olympic athlete who spent the 2nd World War in a prisoner of war camp in Japan after surviving 47 days of a raft in the middle of the ocean. It’s based on a book by Laura Hillenbrand as well as real life events. Sadly, the real Louis Zamperini died in spring of 2014 and didn’t get to see his life on the big screen.

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Acting

Louis Zamperini is portrayed by Jack O’Connell – a British actor who is best known for his work on the TV show Skins. I liked his performance, it was so-so at the beginning of the movie but in the end, when Jack really got into the character, it was just amazing. The emotional dual between him and the Bird truly showed his talent and made me enjoy the scene which was actually horrible and heartbreaking but inspiring at the same time. I would love to see more of his work.

Speaking about the Bird – a Japanese general who tortured Louis both mentally and physically – he was played by a Japanese singer Miyavi. The character seemed a bit cartoon-y to me – almost like a stupid school bully. Nonetheless, I hated the character almost as much as Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa in the Inglorious Basterds, so Miyavi did a great job as a villain.

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Other cast members included : Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Luke Treadaway, Jordan Patrick Smith and many others. As you can already tell, this is an all male cast type of movie. I don’t have any problems with that because there were no women at war. However, I do have a problem with the fact that I can’t remember anything about the characters that these actors played with the exceptions of Jack O’Connel and Miyavi. They didn’t develop them well enough and didn’t make me care about them or even remember them at all.

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Visuals and Directing

The movie is beautifully shot and I really liked Angelina’s work as a director. The scenes in the water were cool but sometimes cheesy while prisoner of war camp was portrayed realistically.

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Sport

Louis Zamperini was an Olympic runner and for me as an athlete, the part which told us about his athletic career was the most interesting. I also loved the fact that they didn’t diminish the importance of sport in Louis Zamperini’s life. If he hadn’t been an athlete and hadn’t trained as hard as he did, he probably wouldn’t have survived the war. I loved the clip of the real Louis running with the Olympic torch in 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan.

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Religion

Louis Zamperini also was a religious person, who found God when he needed him the most. Religion’s theme was mentioned in the film but didn’t explored deeply enough. The end of the film was really touching and made me tear up. It showed the importance of forgiveness – sometimes it’s better to turn the other cheek than to raise a fist.

Criticisms

Unbroken received mixed reviews from the critics and was shut down from the award’s season. Overall, I liked the film, though, a few scenes were really unbelievable and took me out of the movie. For example, their fight with a shark – you can’t catch a shark with your bare hands. The pacing had a few problems, but I would still recommend to watch this movie if you are a sport’s fan and interested in history.

Rate 4/5

Trailer: Unbroken trailer

Photos: Screenshots form the trailer.

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Sightseeing: A day in Vilnius

Sightseeing

Hello my dear readers!

I haven’t posted in a few days and I thought that I will tell you about my day in a few sentences. Today, a bunch of seniors from my school went on an educational trip to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. We attended a lecture about study possibilities at Vilnius university – the best higher education school in my country. We also walked aroud university’s library and a few study halls. This university was established in 1579 and most of the building stated the same from the 16th century. There is also a lot of paintings and sculptures from 18th and 19th centuries. After visiting university, we had a few hours of free time at the city centre, so I and my classmate strolled up and down Gediminas street, looked for clothes and H&M and had lunch at a small and cosy cafe. We also saw a building were parlament of Lithuania meets and make decisions about our country’s future.

I had a great day because I learned something new about possible opportunities for me after graduating from high school. Moreover, I love the architecture of Vilnius old town and city centre. It combines modern building with historical sights. In addition, some buildings have already been decorated for Christmas and I love to walk under fairy lights and other decorations. Bellow you will find a few photos from the university and Vilnius’s old town. Bye!

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Movie review: Gone Girl + book

Movie reviews

Hello!

Last night, I went to the early screening of Gone Girl, so this is a spoiler warning, because I am going to review this highly anticipated book-turned-movie thriller.

Summary: With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent. (IMDb)

Book + Changes

I have started reading the book by Gillian Flynn when I had 5 days left till the premiere, so I was on a tight schedule. I really loved the first half of the book, but when the big secret was revealed I was kind of skeptical that this was the big plot twist. It was hard to root for Amy when you’ve found out her mental state but I, as a woman, couldn’t be on Nick’s side as well because he was a cheat.
The ending was really weird. They resolved some stuff out and they were still dragging the story out and then it just suddenly ended. What is more, by the end of the book, probably all the readers were on a Team Nick and he did not get a happy ending. I was really happy when the producers decided to create a whole new ending and the third act. Moreover, the author of the book was the one creating the new material, so this was still her imagination and not some screenwriter altering the original material.  In addition, the new ending meant that all the book readers hadn’t spoiled the movie for themselves.

Note: I wrote that part of the review before going to see that movie, so my comment after watching it: they didn’t change a dam thing. I was hoping that there will be a big, grand change but the story played out the same way it did in the book. Of course, there were a few minor changes but that always happens when you are adapting a book to the big screen. For example, in the book we have read what were they thinking after the reunion .In the movie, we are only guessing what is on their minds from their expressions and their actions. I was a bit disappointed that everything everyone was talking about were these big changes and there weren’t any of them.

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Acting

I believe that Ben Affleck was great choice for the role of Nick – the husband. I have firstly acquainted with Ben as an actor in one of the reruns of Armageddon when I was about 8 or 9. After that, I watched him in Daredevil and Oscar winning Argo (I loved Argo – one of my favorite movies ever) and recently, I got around watching – Gone Baby Gone – a directorial debut of Affleck that has almost the same premise as Gone Girl and even a similar name. In the 2007’s Gone Baby Gone a girl goes missing and in this year’s Gone Girl – a grown women. I still need to check him out in Pearl Harbor – I have heard so much about this movie and I can’t believe that I still haven’t watched it. Shame on me.

As much as I knew about Ben Affleck, I was totally in the dark when it came to Rosamund Pike. I haven’t seen any of her movies (or maybe I have and I just don’t remember her which actually is a bad thing for actors). Nonetheless, I enjoyed her performance; she was a believable (SPOILER) psychopath.

Speaking about the supporting cast, Neil Patrick Harris was, of course, the main scene stealer. He is always perfect in every role and this one was not an exception.  And that SPOILER bed scene – that was one of the most powerfully gross scene I have ever seen. The whole cinema was open-mouthed by the time it ended.

Emily Ratajkowski (Blurred Lines music video girl) played Nick’s mistress Andie, she was quite good too, and her role wasn’t that hard but still props to her for trying to move from her image in Blurred Lines. Then again, this time her boobs also played an important role.

The character I didn’t like in the books but really loved in the movie was detective Rhonda Boney played by Kim Dickens. I really enjoyed her performance and was rooting for Rhonda in the investigation. Tyler Perry was nice Tanner Bolt even thought I imagined him in a completely different way when I was reading the book. Carrie Coon also did a good job as Margo – I loved how she almost always stayed on Nick’s side.

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Directing

The movie is directed by David Fincher who is best known for directing The Girl with the dragon tattoo, The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story).  As a long time Facebook user (My name is Lue, and I am an addict), I adored The Social Network and loved seeing Jessie Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake in one movie (too much eye candy).  I was never a fan of The Girl with the dragon tattoo book series, maybe because I was too young when I tried to read them. Furthermore, the critics and the general public weren’t really interested in the movie adaptation so it sort of slipped from my “to watch” list. I have read The Curious Case by Fitzgerald and I want to watch the movie but haven’t found time yet.

In Gone Girl, I really loved Fincher’s attention to details. He really made me believe in these characters and the story. Of course, he has to share these praises with both Gillian Flynn for creating this strong material and great actors who brought these powerful characters to life.

Themes

Both the movie and the book explore the problems of the family. They show how parent’s problems affect their children. They portray what happens when parents raise their child as a god: the kid doesn’t want to let his/hers parents down, she/he becomes a perfectionist. However, at the same time he/she might turn into a spoiled brat. The conclusion: raise you kids in a right way (but god knows what the right way is). The second big theme was a relationship between a husband and a wife and domestic abuse. Nick and Amy’s relationship was toxic and addictive: they could not live together normally, but they couldn’t exist separately as well. Relationships are hard and if you want your relationship to succeed both sides have to work together. Lastly, I loved how they portrayed the importance of media in contemporary world. If society loves you, you are innocent. If they hate you, you are screwed.

All in all, I liked the book, I liked the movie. I wish they would have given us an alternative ending but I am still quite satisfied with what I got. I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie received an Oscar nominations for best adapted screenplay and acting.

Trailer: Gone Girl trailer

Rate: 4.5/5

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Photos: Google Images

Swimming marathon: Sudeikiai 2014

Sports

Hello!

Last weekend (on August 9th) I participated in the last swimming marathon in Lithuania this summer – 6th Annual Sudeikiai Swimming Marathon. Sudeikiai is a little town in eastern part of Lithuania near the city of Utena. You can learn more about it here: http://utenainfo.lt/en

(The location of the town is the red dot on the map as always with these type of posts:)

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We were swimming in Alaušas Lake which has super clean water – you can see the bottom of the lake almost all the time even if the lake is 10 meters deep or even deeper. There were two distances to choose from: 2,5 km and 5 km. 5 km is the official open water distance approved by FINA.

Since I have not trained at all and I wasn’t preparing for the marathon at all I chose the smaller distance and the swim was still very hard for me. The water was warm, the wind – calm and the weather always changeable: the sun was shinning one moment and the clouds would cover it up the next moment. Nonetheless, it was warm enough.

This marathon was also the finish of Grand Prix competition: it was a relay of three marathons. The competition was between teams of 4 people and the winner was determined by counting FINA points which consist of points gained for the time, points for the age (older means more points) and points for place you’ve won in your age group.

This was my 4th time swimming all the marathons in Lithuania and I am planning to do it next year. Next sport post will probably be about a running marathon in the capital of Lithuania. I am planning to attend it. Have a good week! Bye.

Movie review: Rise+Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Movie reviews

Hello!

I remember watching Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes as a child and not sleeping for a few days afterwards. With these bad memories from childhood I decide to challenge myself and try the newest Apes’ edition. I hope you enjoy my reviews!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011).

From quite inexperienced director Rupert Wyatt comes this science-fiction reboot of the beloved franchise. I have seen Tim Burton try to do justice to this series but unfortunately I haven’t seen the original one. I probably should watch it.

Speaking about Rise I really liked this movie. 

James Franco, in my opinion, is one of the greatest actors nowadays and I always enjoy his performance. He fits perfectly in this role as a scientist and a loving son. I felt an emotional connection with Caesar through him.

The film has an amazing premise and it also shows that humans and apes are not as different as we might think.

Human kind is always using animals to try out medicine, makeup and all kinds of stuff and it is no surprise that apes are not happy about it. The movie shows that everything that happens is people’s fault and that they are to blame for all that madness. Apes are just avenging their own kind. And you cannot argue that revenge is not a human emotion, so as a result, you can’t see apes as villains. In this case, they are more like victims, even thought, they are killing humans.

From production point: monkeys jumping though windows looked super cool. Caesar speaking for the first time was such a powerful scene. Action was also great – not too overboard, stayed quite realistic.

Other notes: Young Caesar was such a cute monkey. What is more, I do not know who I hated more Draco Malfoy in HP or Dodge Landon in this movie (both played by Tom Felton). I guess props go to the actor behind these characters – he knows how to provoke strong feelings, particularly hatred.

The first half hour of the movie was super positive and then everything went sour. The first hour and the second half hour are completely different parts of the movie – everything just changes so quickly.

One last thing: Monkeys’ voices are super intimidating and annoying, though, I have a huge interest in them as animals or perhaps I should say as creatures almost equal to human race but exciting and unique in their own way.  

When I had finished the movie I realized that I have seen it before, probably in the movie theater when it came out. However, I enjoyed it as much as the first time around. Rate 4.5/5

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

I have finally found the time to see this movie.  I really enjoyed it but I also have some criticism.

Short summary: The movie picks up 10 years after the events of the first film. Apes are living peaceful life in the forest while humans are destroying themselves with the virus that made apes smarter and also there is a general chaos in the whole wide world. The events of this movie start with a group of people that try to find a dam to produce electricity in the apes’ forest. By accident one of the apes is killed and the Dawn stars.

Let’s start with negative stuff. To my mind, the beginning of the film was too slow and overall the first hour was kinda boring to me. It was interesting to see the culture of apes but the human problems with electricity was the weak spot. And all the human characters were overpowered by apes. Mainly by Caeser and Koba.

Andy Serkis is a genius at playing motion capture characters. He gains a lot of money for his work but he definitely deserves every penny he gets. And he also deserves at least an Oscar nomination if not the win. I wish the Academy would recognize motion capture actors as other ‘real ‘ones.  Of course, we also need to talk about Koba played by Toby Kebell. He was the scene stealer of the century. The plot was pretty slow at first but in the end the movie surprised me in the good way. All the CGI effects and motion capture were amazing as I have previously mentioned.

I loved that the movie got deeper into the theme that humans and apes are alike: they have the same father-son problems, fights growing up; they care about their family and home. My favorite scenes in the movie were, of course, the ending shot of Caesar’s eyes (I also loved the fact that all the apes had human like eyes) and the full circle shot with Koba on a tank. That was really well done.

In comparison with the first film, I think that it was stronger than this one. So Dawn is 4/5 while Rise is 4.5/5. 

Trailer: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer Rate 4/5

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Sightseeing: Berlin, Germany

Sightseeing

Hi!

Last month I visited Berlin for a 6th or 7th time. For my blog readers this means only one thing – another sightseeing blog post.So let’s begin, shall we?

Firstly we visited Berlin city center and walked around for a bit. Then we went to one of the most famous buildings in Berlin – Reich-stag building. It is a government building that has been rebuilt a couple of times. The view from the top of it is breathtaking.

After spending time in the city center we took a metro to the Berlin zoo. It is also located in the city center and it is quite weird to walk around animals and at the same time see skyscrapers hovering above you.

As a brochure of the zoo says it has the biggest diversity of animals in Europe. It was opened in 1844 and now it is the oldest zoological garden in Germany.  The zoo also has an aquarium complex joined with it. In addition, it is Europe’s largest landscape zoo. It took like 4 hours to walk through it.

The tickets’ prices are not too bad in my opinion. Adult tickets with the permission to enter the aquarium cost 20 Euros, without aqua – 13 Euros. It’s 15 and 10 Euros for students respectively. You can find all the prices here: http://www.zoo-berlin.de/

I really enjoyed walking around this garden; I loved seeing all the animals, especially the elephants. They were drinking water with their trunks and looked just too cute doing it. Bellow you will find as much photos as I could fit into one blog post. Bye!

P.S. A note on the metro system of Berlin. I was pleasantly surprised how clear everything is. I have been on metros in France and in other cities of Germany and there I was always half-lost. But in everything Berlin is clear, there are so many sings to guide you and people are also really helpful. The metro stations are also super clean as you would expect from Germans.

Sightseeing: Birštonas city, Lithuania

Sightseeing

This past weekend, I have visited my aunt who lives in Birštonas – a small resort type city in the southern part of Lithuania. This visit gave me an idea to start new series of post called: Sightseeing. I will try to tell you about places I have seen and have visited across Lithuania as well as the rest of the world.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
Birštonas was first mentioned in 1382. It got its resort status in 1842. Even knights, lords and ladies liked to relax here during 14th-18th centuries. Down bellow you will find photos of town’s central park. Old pine trees grow there and make this park a beautiful spot to relax, walk around or do sports. There are a few playgrounds for kids, outdoor exercise equipment, basketball court, and skateboarding ramp, summer stage for live performances, table tennis court and golf court.
If you don’t like walking under the trees, you are welcomed to enjoy a walk or a bicycle ride by the river Nemunas. The view is astonishing. This relaxed environment helps people to recover from stress, depression or illness. Because of this, Birštonas has many sanatoriums and spas. People come from all over the world to recover from serious illness or injuries. The area is also famous for its mineral water wells.
Whether you choose to read a book by the river or walk around the park, while breathing fresh air and viewing local artists’ sculptures, you will definitely enjoy your time in Birštonas. If nature is not your thing, you are welcomed to walk around Birštonas city, see old neo gothic churches and rare buildings or even visit a town’s museum.
I really enjoyed my walk around Birštonas, it helped to clear my mind after a hard school week. By the time our walk was coming to an end it started to rain and the wind picked up, so we had to run to my aunt’s place. Here, while snacking on oatmeal raisin cookies and tiramisu cake accompanied with sweet lemon tea, we chatted about life and plans for future.
Hope you have a great week and I will see you later.

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